Why you should NOT check email first thing in the morning (part 5 of 7):

Checking e-mail is an excuse for a lack of priorities 

Here’s a challenging question for you - “Why do you check e-mail first thing in the morning?” 

To be honest, it’s probably because you lack real clarity about the important tasks and activities you should be working on. By checking the inbox first thing in the morning you are immediately prioritising the ‘new’ ahead of all those important things you already have a commitment to (many of which arrived by email yesterday or earlier).  

So the real problem isn’t so much that you’re checking e-mail first thing, it’s that you’ve considered checking e-mail as a high priority activity simply because you haven’t decided what your real high priority tasks and activities are! When you don’t have a clear list of priorities, checking e-mail becomes an urgent activity that tends to be done at the expense of important ones. 

Now, of course, most of us do need to check email early in the day, but it shouldn’t be first thing! We should, instead, check and clarify the important tasks and activities we are already committed to for the day. You may even get a few processes started on one or more of these tasks (as important work often needs to be brokered back and forth with others) and then check what new inputs have arrived via email overnight, or early in the morning, that need to now be integrated with the workload you already have.

It’s good to ask “what should I be doing if I got no new email this morning”.